To Follow the Lord Until the End (San Lorenzo Ruiz)
To follow is to go or come after a person or thing proceeding ahead. When we follow we move or travel behind someone who is in front or before us. People follow someone because of various reasons: it could be because of fame or beauty, or they look up to that person’s unique talents and gifts, and many others. A disciple is a follower of a master. In the gospel, Jesus is the Master and those who are following Him are called disciples. Many of those who followed Jesus were amazed by His preaching and deeds of power. Some, when later on challenged by His teaching, did not anymore follow Him, yet there were those who stayed with Him and followed Him until the end. Some of Jesus’ disciples were chosen to be later on sent as apostles.
“Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you, except our Creator Himself.”
In today’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus presented what following Him would entail: self-denial and detachment. Self-denial would mean single-heartedness, to be focused only on the Lord Jesus. We heard it said by Jesus, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Following Jesus is not a walk in the park but a mission of proclaiming the Good News to all peoples. Sometimes there will be oppositions and hindrances, yet just like Jesus, the mission continues on. Following Jesus would entail detachment. A spiritual writer said, “Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you, except our Creator Himself.” It is a call to freedom in the Spirit in order to follow the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly, without any reservations. We heard it said today in the Gospel, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
“If I have a thousand lives, I will offer them all to the Lord.”
Brothers and sisters, to follow the Lord Jesus is not at all easy, it demands self-denial and detachment. We may ask ourselves: then why am I here if being a Christian and follower of the Lord is not at all comfortable and stress-free? Today we celebrate the feast of our first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. Here is one who followed the Lord Jesus until the end. He struggled to live his Christian life with self-denial and detachment. He died for his faith despite the bitter and painful tortures. Lorenzo could have had given up his faith in order to save his life. According to the witnesses, his last words were: “I am a Catholic and I am willing to die for the Lord. If I have a thousand lives, I will offer them all to the Lord.” The life of Lorenzo Ruiz was a ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call to follow Him. He witnessed not only by words but also by his very life. Let us pray in this Holy Mass, through the intercession of San Lorenzo Ruiz and his companion martyrs, that we may have the grace to follow Jesus until the end and have the courage and strength to follow His lead with self-denial and detachment. The Lord is Emmanuel, God with us, and will be with us until the end, may we do so for Him, like San Lorenzo Ruiz: “If I have a thousand lives, I will offer them all to the Lord.”